On Thursday, April 4, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the Order of Zayed by United Arab Emirate (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Prince Zayed took to Twitter to express his appreciation for PM Modi. As a friendly gesture, Prince Zayed tweeted it in Hindi as well.
“We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave these relations a big boost. In appreciation of his efforts, the UAE President grants him the Zayed Medal,” he said.
PM Modi also responded to the news on Twitter. He said he was humbled to accept the award. He even re-phrased this tweet in Hindi as a reply to Prince Zayed’s congratulations in Hindi.
“Thank you, Your Highness Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. I accept this honour with utmost humility. Under your visionary leadership, our strategic ties have reached new heights. This friendship is contributing to the peace and prosperity of our people and planet,” said the PM.
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj also joined in. She said Modi was being recognised for his “stellar role in ushering in a new era of strategic partnership with UAE and the best ever relations with the Islamic world”.
The Zayed medal
The ‘Order of the Zayed’ is UAE’s highest civilian honour awarded to kings, presidents, and other heads of state. It looks like a large necklace with a sunflower-like medallion at the centre.
The award aims to highlight officials who have made an effort to strengthen relations between their home country and the UAE.
Prince Zayed previously said the award is “an expression of UAE’s gratitude and appreciation for its longstanding friendship and cooperation” with the country being awarded.
Last year, the UAE conferred the Order of Zayed on Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the past, it has bestowed it on Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Mohammad of Morocco, Queen Elizabeth of the UK, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir.
This year, the Gulf country awarded the Order of Zayed to Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed and President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki as well.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri told Gulf News that this news is historic for the Indian community in the UAE.
“I have been saying all along that India-UAE relations are going through a golden era,” he said.
In recent times, India and the UAE have seen a tightening of diplomatic bonds. Modi first visited the UAE in August 2015 and again in February 2018.
The UAE is also India’s 10th largest investor, and the two countries have several MoUs related to labour, and other developmental projects.
Abu Dhabi has also been welcoming towards the Indian community. In February, the capital city of the UAE made Hindi an official language in its labour courts. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said that allowing Indians to file claims in Hindi will help them to understand foreign legal procedures better, without a language barrier.
Additionally, for the first time in history, India attended the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a guest of honour at the invitation of Prince Zayed. It is also the first non-Islamic country to attend.
The OIC is a forum for Muslim-majority countries to discuss political, social, and economic issues specific to the Islamic community. Prince Zayed’s invitation was monumental, because India has a strained history with the OIC.
The Organisation has often condemned Indian Army’s violence in Kashmir and even supports a referendum in the disputed zone. It had blocked India’s 2006 bid to join the OIC after Pakistan disagreed to the membership.
However, relations between India and the UAE itself are strong. Modi also launched the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.
There is no clarity yet on whether Modi will travel to the UAE to accept the award because election campaigning is well underway.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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